In today’s fast paced, technology-driven society, sedentary behavior – that is, sitting for long periods of time – is taking a negative toll on our bodies and overall well being. We now know through extensive research that regular aerobic exercise, including walking for health, can have positive effects on decreasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, minimizing disability associated with osteoarthritis, and more.
A recent initiative in Canada called Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) is providing national leadership in promoting physical activity as a chronic disease prevention strategy. EIMC believes that most Canadians can find simple ways to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their daily routines.
Walk it Off: Health Benefits of Walking
So what can we do to make the shift towards increasing physical activity to counteract the effects prolonged sitting and inactivity and get our bodies back to a higher fitness level?
One of the most simple and effective ways to improve overall health is walking – a form of low impact exercise that can:
- Strengthen muscles in the feet, legs, hips, and torso: Walking increases the stability of the spine and conditions the muscles that keep the body in the upright position.
- Nourish the spinal structures: Walking for exercise facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins.
- Improve flexibility and posture: Walking exercise along with regular stretching allows greater range of motion and helps prevent awkward movements and susceptibility of future injury.
Health Tips for Walking: Make it Part of Your Daily Routine
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends up to 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Here are a few tips to make it even easier to integrate 15 to 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine.
- Walk to the next bus stop or subway station entrance instead of using the closest one.
- Walk up or down the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator.
- Walk to the corner store instead of taking the car.
- Park your car in the spot that is furthest away from the store entrance.
- Take a five-minute stretch break midmorning and mid-afternoon.
- Take a walk around the block after lunch.
Is walking exercise? Absolutely. So get out there and start walking!
Dr. Christopher deGraauw, DC, FRCCSS(C)
Clinician, CMCC Campus Clinic, 6100 Leslie Street, Toronto, ON
Assistant Professor, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College